The next time you reach into the fridge for a carton of milk, ponder this – just about every litre of milk collected in New Zealand has passed through an NZH pump.
This is because every milk tanker in the big Fonterra fleet is fitted with an NZH Milkpump, as are a growing number of other milk tankers throughout Australasia.
Over the course of the next 12 months more than 14 billion litres of milk in New Zealand and 10 billion litres of milk in Australia will be handled by NZH Milkpumps. The Fonterra fleet of 434 tankers is one of the largest of its type in the world. On average, each truck will collect around 32 million litres of milk a year.
This year the fleet has been going through a major change with an upgrade of metering systems and the exclusive supply arrangement for the latest Scania trucks. This has seen the fitting of a new valving system to the tanker fleet, and Hydrocar PTO and pumps to the 69 new trucks, which was a significant undertaking.
The milk pump business with Fonterra can be traced back to the early years of NZH. In the mid-1980s, NZH began supplying hydraulic drive systems to run pumps on the tankers owned by the various dairy companies around New Zealand at the time.
The milk pumping systems in those days were more complicated and less efficient. This led NZH into partnership with Auckland pump specialists Nuphlo to create a new and more efficient 4" centrifugal stainless steel milk pumping system designed to take advantage of the Hydrocar PTO sold by NZH. The result is a milk pump that is easier to install, easier to use, more efficient, and pumps milk faster than before – at up to 2000 litres per minute, almost twice as fast as previous systems.
The NZH Milkpump was quickly adopted by one of the major fore-runners to Fonterra, Kiwi Dairy Company. Anchor, Tui, and others soon followed suit. Within a short time the dairy industry standardised on the 4" NZH Milkpump and, under Fonterra, continues to do so today.
The NZH milk pump is extremely robust. It has very few parts to wear out. Bearings and mechanical seals are the only parts that will need replacing from time to time.
That is great for customers like Fonterra, which can transfer the pumps from old to new tankers.
And that is why NZH has been setting its sights on Australia in recent years, with a view to growing the milk pump business across the Tasman. However, as THS General Manager 'Gavin Brokenshire' points out, the dairy industry in Australia is not quite as straightforward as the industry in New Zealand. There is no standardisation in the collection process, and tanker drivers have to contend with varying outlet sizes. Collections are further complicated by the need for tankers to carry long lengths of hose. This is because some milk vats may be a considerable distance from the vehicle, which can cause problems drawing the milk to the pump and evacuating air from the system. NZH was up against the traditional lobestyle pumps used on most milk tankers in Australia, which did the job but, on average, operated at around 500 to 700 litres per minute. This is well behind the speed enjoyed by New Zealand milk tankers.
The NZH answer was to develop a twinpump system for milk collection tankers in Australia. In addition to the main 4" centrifugal pump, a secondary prime pump is fitted, with the aim of drawing the milk up and priming the 4" pump, which then takes over. When the flow rate drops below a specific parameter, the 4" pump stops and the prime pump runs to empty the vat and hose, thus ensuring the integrity of the system. The NZH team developed the first twin pump system in 2003 and has modified it several times since. With each modification, the system has become faster and more efficient until the latest version is now able to reach 1700 litres per minute, saving valuable time for the tanker operators. The newest version is integrated with the electronic metering system and both pumps are controlled by predetermined flow and speed parameters. However, without industry standardisation, each installation has to be tailored to suit the specific operator's requirements and the demands of the various farm sites. Word is spreading about the performance and reliability of the NZH Milkpump system and it has now been equipped to more than 100 tankers in Australia.